This large canopy tree, commonly known as ‘Uganda red mahogany’, is found in lowland rainforest and riverine forests up to 1,500m above sea-level. It prefers terraces and stable, gently sloping riverbeds in riparian forests.
This species occupies an important position in the timber trade of east Africa due to its high-quality and highly valuable mahogany timber. For this reason, Khaya anthotheca is logged selectively and intensely which has severely reduced its population in the wild.
This species, as well as having multiple uses in traditional medicine, has excellent ornamental potential thanks to its heavy shade and small, sweet-scented white flowers.
The timber from this species is an important source of African mahogany, however, it is heavily exploited. Regeneration is poor in places, especially in areas with few parent trees. It’s believed that serious genetic erosion has occurred as a result.
Local community members will be directly empowered as the seed of Khaya anthotheca will be collected and grown in a community-led nursery. Community members will be trained to plant and restore forests with threatened trees species such as Khaya anthotheca. Training will also be delivered on how to establish a monitoring programme, which is essential for determining growth rates and seedling health.
These training programmes will also increase awareness of the various uses of native tree species and directly address the need to promote threatened species conservation. A more direct benefit will be that local communities will gain access to new food sources, medicines and materials to be used sustainably once trees reach maturity. Saving this species will also serve as a source of food to attract local wildlife, thus increasing the potential for eco-tourism in the region. Furthermore, by saving this species local communities will be better able to protect their cultural heritage.
Tooro Botanical Gardens have ensured that 400 individuals of K. anthotheca are planted in the community surrounding their established tree nurseries. So far, 14,000 seedlings of K. anthotheca have been raised for population restoration and community planting.